Saturday, April 15, 2017

Our Winter Of Discontent

I just found out that even before November last year, D already thought of breaking up with me. He was already dissatisfied with our relationship around two-ish years ago; I suppose there were needs of his that our relationship (and I) could not answer. Or maybe his priorities and needs had shifted already.

So why didn’t he? At that time he felt that if he broke up with me, he had no place to go. He still wasn’t earning enough to afford a place of his own. His mom and sisters live in the metro, and he also has relatives in Taguig; technically, he could have moved in with any of them. But it would have been a big hassle not only for him but also for his relatives.

(Let’s also assume that at that time he still had enough feelings for me, making it harder for him to leave. Because otherwise, if he were really unhappy, he would have been compelled to do something.)

By the time he broke up with me during the ides of March, he was in a much better place financially. And his mom and sisters had moved to a bigger apartment, with an extra room for him. Conditions were right for him to break up with me.

Was it unfair to hold on for several months given the discontent? Because a relationship involves two parties, let’s tackle that question in two parts.

Was it unfair for him? Well, it was his choice; he decided to grin and bear it. And for most parts, I did not sense anything out of the ordinary from him, so he was able to hide his discontent well. In that sense, kinaya niya. So whether it was unfair or not, I suppose it didn’t matter that much for him, because he stayed on.

Was it unfair for me? Did I deserve to at least be told? Do I deserve someone who is not discontented with me? Personally, I don’t mind having a partner who harbours some discontent, so long as he can live with his decision to stay with me.

The truth is, everyone can have some level of discontent or dissatisfaction with everyone else. Let’s get real here. The saying “No one’s perfect, but you’re perfect for me” is a huge fallacy. Walang perfect, walang forever. So staying with a partner means learning how to live with a certain level of discontentment and unfulfilled needs. The question one should ask oneself is: Can I accept him, warts and all of that? One must be able to determine the level of acceptable discontent and disharmony. Because if they go beyond that—we call them “deal breakers”—then the deal is off, so to speak.

Which is why, upon hearing that D had been thinking of breaking up with me earlier, I wasn’t really fazed or bothered that much. I was more curious as to why he didn’t say anything earlier.

(And to some extent, I feel bad for D that he had to endure months of discontent with me, when he could have extracted himself from that situation.)

Do I feel bad that he stayed for practical reasons? No. We all have different motives in life. And when we choose a particular path to take, often there’s more than one motivation at play there. We do this, we choose that, for several reasons; and it’s possible that there is no clear ranking of motivations. What’s the more important motive? What’s the least important? Most people act without much deliberation, which requires self-awareness and self-assessment.

At no time in our relationship did I feel that he was just using me. So no, I do not feel bad. In fact, it’s more likely that he had other reasons alongside practical ones for staying with me. And those are enough for me.

Friday, April 7, 2017

“This Is Where We Broke Up”

Okay, DO NOT read too much into this. This is not how we broke up. I just think this is a wonderfully executed short film.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

My Two Top 5 Films Lists

My friends asked me to make a list of my Top 5 films “of all time,” but they qualified it to mean that the films should be ones that “stayed with you or meant a lot to you through the years” and that “you won’t mind seeing them again and again”.

For me, there’s a difference between “stayed with you, meant a lot to you” and won’t “mind seeing again and again”. The latter qualifier allows for movies that are just freaking fun to watch again and again, and may not mean a lot for me except for the amount of fun or joy it gives me while watching.

I’d also like to point out that there are particular movies with scenes that I loooooove watching again and again and again and again (The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded are especially my favorites; the action scenes are mini-lessons in staging and editing, and are not as relentlessly painful to watch compared to George Miller’s Mad Max movies). I’ve seen those scenes more times than I’ve seen E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, the record-holder for the movie I’ve seen the most number of times, but I wouldn’t want to wade through the whole movie just to watch those scenes (hooray for DVD/Blu-ray!). So I will exclude those movies from my list.

To that end, here is my list of Top 5 Films I Won’t Mind Seeing Again & Again In Their Entirety:

5. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) – It’s got Taron Egerton in a shirtless scene, muscles taut and rippling. It’s got gentlemen spies. It’s very British. It’s got a killer lady assassin with killer legs (literally). And it’s got Samuel L. Jackson with a lisp. What’s not to love?

4. Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981) – Spielberg’s and Lucas’ ode to their swashbuckling afternoon matinees of their youth. This film also is a mini-film class on how brilliant Spielberg stages action scenes (another Spielberg class in staging and editing is Jurassic Park).

3. Kick-Ass (2010) – The runaway star here is ChloĆ« Grace Moretz, making Hit Girl the cutest killing machine not older than 12. Her fight scenes energize the movie, and kick it several notches higher than your usual superhero movie. It also gives Nicolas Cage a role that fits his weird persona perfectly. Aaron Johnson anchors the film with his earnest and funny portrayal of a teenager who believes he’s doing the right thing. This is the second movie directed by Matthew Vaughn in my list; the other is Kingsman.

2. The Princess Bride (1987) – Fall in love with a movie that makes you fall in love with falling in love. The movie is a story-within-a-story, and is chockfull of quotable quotes and earnest yet winking performances. Plus you see Robin Wright at her prettiest, Cary Elwes at his most handsome and dashing, and the rest of the ensemble delivering inspired performances. You didn’t fall in love with this movie? Inconceivable!

1. Shaun Of The Dead – The zombie movie to end all zombie movies. It’s a wonderful blend of horror, comedy, and buddy movie, with a bit of drama and pathos thrown in. They also manage to throw in a joke about using vinyl records as weapons against zombies—and they toss Sade’s first LP.

Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order): Aliens, All About Eve, Bangkok Love Story, Chicago, The Curse Of The Golden Flower, The Devil Wears Prada, Hero, Love Of Siam, Shelter, The Wedding Banquet, Y Tu Mama Tambien

And here’s my Top 5 Films That Have Stayed With Me And (Still) Mean A Lot To Me (Even Though I May Not Feel Like Watching Them Again And Again):

5. Airplane! (1980) – This parody of 1970s disaster movies led to a slew of big- and small-screen comedies that featured wall-to-wall jokes. There were even jokes in the foreground while a visual gag played out at the back. And despite a few jokes that now feel old, it’s still fun to watch again and again, especially with people who have never seen a comedy that’s this relentless in throwing every possible gag at you. Shirley, they must be kidding.

4. Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979) – Superb performances from Dustin Hoffman, child actor Justin Henry, and the incomparable Meryl Streep, plus measured, masterful direction from Robert Benton. Hoffman, Streep, and Benton went on to win Academy Awards for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Director respectively, while the movie won Best Picture. It’s a weeper that doesn’t try very hard to make you cry. It’s one of those few well-made dramas that managed to emotionally affect me while impressing me intellectually.

3. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977) – If Steven Spielberg’s Jaws made you afraid to go in the water, this movie made you watch the skies. This was the Spielberg movie that made me want to become a director when I grew up. The sight of all those moving, flashing lights fascinated me no end. The whole movie is one big reveal, and when it does, it invites more questions from the audience. Who are these aliens? Where do they come from? What do they want from us? It is an intriguing, compelling, and ultimately, hopeful view of what’s out there.

2. Halloween (1978) – This mother-of-all slasher horror classic was another movie that made me want to be a director. I went in on the penultimate screening for the day. By the end of the movie I was so impressed that I stayed on to watch the last full show; or rather, the reactions of the viewers who watched the movie. And it fascinated me how, under the tight control of director John Carpenter, the movie had two different sets of audiences reacting the same way, at the same time, in the same scenes. Very Hitchcock.

1. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) – This movie showed the world how superb storyteller Steven Spielberg was also capable of doing more than just shock or surprise. I was so taken in by the story of Elliot and the botanist alien, two beings alienated from everyone around them, that I ended up watching the whole movie seven times. (But it was only on the fourth or fifth viewing that I got teary-eyed during the scene when the flower started wilting as E.T.’s health deteriorated.) Even until today, E.T. still holds the record for the most number of times I’ve watched a movie in its entirety.

Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order): Ordinary People, Phantasm, Poltergeist, The Poseidon Adventure, Star Wars: A New Hope, Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory

My New Itch

When I hit 40, I decided to embrace singlehood. Since my 20s I had been going out almost every weekend to bars, seeking and searching. I knew that I was unlikely to find love in those hopeless places, but still I went because, honestly, I had no idea where “people like us” converged. My most desperate seemed to be at age 29 and 39—just before the start of a new decade.

But at 40 I told myself, okay, fine, so I may end up single for the rest of my life. Let me embrace that. There are other things I am grateful for, and I know I will not be wanting of love from friends and family. Sure, I may end up wondering what it’s like to have a partner, but that may be an itch I will never be able to scratch. And I was beginning to be fine with that. Then D came along.

Itch scratched.

So now that I’m single again, I ask myself, “Do I want to go into another relationship?” I know that it really takes two to tango, so if there’s someone who comes along, why not? I feel I still can dance.

But now there’s a new item in my bucket list that I’m dying to experience, to know what it’s like to be in one.

I’m curious to know what it’s like to be in a polyamorous relationship.

Who knows maybe one day, when I least expect it, I just might stumble into one. Hehehe.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The “Press Con”

I met with the Fabcasters for dinner, and of course it turned into the inevitable “press conference” about the break-up. They asked questions, I answered, and they made side comments—and some oversized, big-theater reactions.

What was interesting was this: I realized, while I was explaining things, how easy it is to make a mistake in recounting stories. Details can be missed. Quotes can be reworded, and with that, meanings changed. Memories can be muddled and switched. And it’s really hard to have reliable witnesses; everything is filtered and reframed by the individual. The veracity of memory rests on one’s own subjectivity—what is true depends on you.

One side is not enough, but even both sides may not even reveal all. So where does the truth lie?

Maybe it’s somewhere between his version and mine, over time.

My New Old Flame

So how is it like to be single after having a partner for 6 years?

I actually said something about this topic before, early on in our relationship. I’m not sure now if I told this also to D, or I just mentioned it to my Fabcaster friends. Or did I say it out loud in a Fabcast? Sorry, senior moment kicking in. But if I did tell D this, I now regret it. I don’t think partners need to know this kind of thing early on in a relationship.

And what is “this”? It is a realization on my part. I’ve been single up until the age of 44. When I hit 40, I began to embrace the fact that I may end up single for life—and that was fine. (Sure, there’s that nagging feeling of knowing only secondhand what it’s like to be in a relationship with someone, but a lot of things in life we live vicariously anyway.) And I was already slowly making my peace with that idea, when D came along. (That’s why I also have this nagging sensation that the moment you decide on something else, Fate will come and give you what you originally wanted. Like God, Fate has a sick sense of humor.) So my realization was: If I do end up single once again, I’m perfectly okay with that.

It’s not something you say to a partner in the early stages of the relationship, right?

But it is true. And that’s why I am thankful that D held off until I got a new job. Because part of my accepting this new job is also moving in back with my mom, brother, and sister in Marikina. And so now that I have no boyfriend, my family now becomes my new “partner”. Or rather, I’m just going back to my former flame before D.